Saint Theodosίa of Tyre lived during the III and IV centuries. Once, during a persecution against Christians, which had already lasted for five years, the seventeen-year-old Theodosίa visited some condemned Christian prisoners in the Praetorium at Caesarea in Palestine. It was the day of Holy…
Blessed John, the Fool-for-Christ and Wonderworker of Ustiug, was born in the village of Pukhovo, near Old Ustiug, of pious parents Savva and Maria. From his youth he distinguished himself by a strict life of fasting. On Wednesdays and Fridays he ate nothing, and on other days he ate only bread and…
The Virgin Martyr Theodosia of Constantinople lived during the eighth century. She was born in answer to the fervent prayers of her parents. After their death, she was raised at the women’s monastery of the holy Martyr Anastasia in Constantinople. Saint Theodosia became a nun after she…
The Icon of the Mother of God “Surety of Sinners” is known by this name because of the inscription on the icon: “I am the Surety of sinners for My Son Who has entrusted Me to hear them, and those who bring Me the joy of hearing them will receive eternal joy through Me.” The…
Atchara has been a Christian stronghold since apostolic times. It was through this region that Saint Andrew the First-called entered Georgia, preaching the Gospel for the first time in the Iberian land. In this land, in the village of Gonio, the holy relics of the martyred Apostle Matthias are…
1. COMMEMORATION OF THE FIRST ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
The commemoration and praise of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council is held on the Sunday before Pentecost or on the Seventh Sunday after Easter. This Council was held in Nicaea in the year 325 A.D. during the reign of the saintly Emperor Constantine the Great. This Council was convened to eliminate the confusion which Arius, a priest of Alexandria, had created by his false teaching. Namely, he spread the teaching that Christ was created in time by God and that He is not the pre-eternal Son of God, equal in being [essence] with God the Father. Three hundred and eighteen Holy Fathers participated in this Council. The Council condemned the teaching of Arius and Arius, since he refused to repent, was anathematized. The Council finally confirmed the Symbol of Faith [The Creed], which was later augmented at the Second Ecumenical Council [381 A.D.]. Many distinguished saints were present at the First Ecumenical Council among whom the most notable were: St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia, St. Spyridon, St. Athanasius, St. Acillus, St. Paphnutius, St. James of Nisibis, Macarius of Jerusalem, Alexander of Alexandria, Eustathius of Antioch, Eusebius of Caesarea, Metrophanes of Constantinople, John of Persia, Aristarchus of Armenia and many others from the East. From the West, the following were present: Hosius of Cordova, Theophilus the Goth, Cecilianus of Carthage and others. The most important work of this Council was the confirmation of the Symbol of Faith [The Creed]. The Council also established the time of the celebration of the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ [Pascha] and issued twenty various canons.
2. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR THEODOSIA OF TYRE
Once, during the reign of Emperor Maximian, many Christians stood bound before the praetor(*) in Palestinian Caesarea. The pious virgin Theodosia approached, comforted and encouraged them in their martyrdom. Upon hearing what she was saying, the soldiers also led her before the judge. The enraged judge ordered that a stone be hung around her neck and tossed her into the depths of the sea. But angels of God carried her to the shore alive. When she, again, appeared before the judge, he ordered her beheaded. The following night, Theodosia appeared to her parents completely encompassed in a great heavenly light, surrounded by many other virgins who were also saved and said: "Do you see how great is the glory and grace of my Christ which you wanted to deprive me of?" She said that to her parents because they tried to persuade her from confessing Christ and martyrdom. Theodosia suffered honorably and was glorified in the year 308 A.D.
3. THE VENERABLE FEMALE MARTYR THEODOSIA
Theodosia was born as the result of the prayers of her mother to the holy martyr Anastasia who appeared to her and said that she will give birth. Her parents dedicated her to God and at an early age presented her to a convent. After the death of her parents, Thedosia inherited a vast estate, and from that estate, she ordered three icons from a goldsmith: The Savior, The Mother of God [The Theotokos] and St. Anastasia. The rest she distributed to the poor. She suffered in the year 730 A.D. during the reign of the evil Emperor Leo the Isaurian, the iconoclast, and received a two-fold wreath: virginity and martyrdom.
4. SAINT ALEXANDER, BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA
Alexander was the first to take up the fight against Arius. He died in the year 326 A.D.
5. SAINT JOHN USTJUZSKI, FOOL FOR CHRIST AND MIRACLE-WORKER
6. THE HOLY MARTYR JOHN [NAN] OF THESSALONICA
John suffered for the Faith at the hands of the Turks in Smyrna in 1802 A.D.
7. THE HOLY MARTYR ANDREW OF CHIOS
Andrew suffered for the Faith at the hands of the Turks in Constantinople in the year 1465 A.D.
8. THE FALL OF THE CITY OF CONSTANTINOPLE
Because of the sins of men, God permitted a bitter calamity to fall upon the capital of Christianity. On May 29, 1453 A.D., Sultan Muhammed II conquered Constantinople and executed Emperor Constantine XI.
THE FALL OF THE CITY CONSTANTINOPLE [MAY 29, 1453]
EMPEROR CONSTANTINE XI
Constantine the Emperor, Constantinople bravely defends,
And to God quietly prays, within himself:
O Most-high God Who, from the heavens is looking
And injustice, you do not allow to defeat justice
Christians, against You, greatly sinned
And Your laws, have trampled greatly
Without Your permission, this battle is not
Because of men's sins, this blood sheds.
That this city falls, is it Your will
That they do not surrender, encourage my people,
That the Cross do not trample and to Islam go
But to endure bondage, until a freedom new
Let them servants be, let them even be slaves
Upon them, let hatred and ridicule befall,
But, with hope and repentance, let them endure
And, with bitter sighing, for former sins,
Until their sins, they wash away and every sin, they repay,
And until to You, they completely return.
If they have You, they will be rich,
All plundered treasures, You will replace.
Constantinople on earth, be or not be -
Constantintople in heaven, You established,
Where, with Your servants, you gloriously reign.
Before this Constantinople, behold, even I stand.
O Blessed One, on our sinful soul, have mercy,
When it is built anew, let the old one be razed!
O how great was the fearlessness of the holy men and holy women! When we read about their lives, both shame and pride is awakened in us unwillingly - shame that we have lagged so far behind them and pride that they are of our Christian race. Neither sickness, nor prison, nor exile, nor suffering, nor humiliation, nor the sword, nor the abyss, nor fire, nor the gallows were able to shake the exalted peace of their souls, firmly attached to Christ, the Helmsman of the universe and human history. When Emperor Julian apostasized from the Faith and began to make waste of Christianity throughout the entire empire, St. Athanasius the Great quietly spoke of him to the faithful: "The cloud will pass!" (Nibiculaest, Transibit). And indeed, that dark cloud quickly passed and Christianity lowered its roots even deeper and spread its branches all the more throughout the world. The weakened wickedness of Julian against Christ was ended after several passing years with Julian's cry: "O Nazarene, You have conquered!" O sons of God, why then should we be afraid of anything from which God our Father is not afraid?
To contemplate the Grace of God the Holy Spirit in the Mystery [Sacrament] of Marriage:
1. How that Grace gives a certain dignity to the manner of the procreating of the human race;
2. How It makes matrimony honorable by comparing it to the bonds of Christ with the Church.
About the two-fold mystery of marriage
"This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church" (Ephesians 5:32).
Great is the mystery when a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife. The apostle himself, who was raised to the third heaven and who saw many mysteries of heaven, calls the physical union of men and women in marriage on earth "a great mystery." That is the mystery of love and life and only the mystery of Christ's bond with His Church is greater. Christ is called the Bridegroom and the Church, the Bride. Christ loves His Church so much that, because of Her, He left His heavenly Father - remaining with Him, of course, in unity of substance and divinity - and descended to earth and attached Himself to His Church and suffered for Her so that, by His Blood cleanse Her from every sin and spot and make Her worthy to be called His Bride. With His love He warms the Church, with His Blood He feeds the Church, and by His Holy Spirit He causes the Church to live and sanctifies and adorns Her. What a husband is to a wife, so Christ is to the Church. Man is the head of a woman and Christ is the Head of the Church. A husband loves his wife as his own body. A woman listens to her husband and the Church listens to Christ. A husband loves his wife as he loves his own body and Christ loves the Church as His own Body. A husband loves his wife as he loves himself and a wife reveres her husband, and Christ loves the Church as He loves Himself and the Church reveres Christ. Since no one hates his own flesh but rather warms and nourishes it so also Christ warms and feeds the Church as His own Body. And every individual human soul is the bride of Christ the Bridegroom and the assembly of all the faithful is the bride of Christ the Bridegroom. The kind of relationship of a believing man toward Christ so also is the relationship of the entire Church toward Christ. Christ is the Head of that great Body which is called the Church, and which is in part visible and in part invisible.
O my brethren, this is a great mystery! It is revealed to us according to the measure of our love toward Christ and of our fear of Christ's judgment.
O Lord, Gentle Savior cleanse us, save us and adorn our souls that we may be worthy of the immortal and indescribable unity with You in time and in eternity.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
(*) An elected magistrate in ancient Rome ranking below a consul charged with the administration of civil justice.